Dog fights can happen in a dog park and you should be prepared. The following guidelines will help you and your dog avoid serious injury. Keep in mind that dogs in the middle of a fight are high on adrenaline and may snap at anything, INCLUDING their owners.


Preventing a Dog Fight:

  1. Two dogs of the same sex are more likely to fight than dogs of the opposite sex.
  2. Watch for staring, posturing, stiffness, raised hackles, stiff tails raised high and wagging fast, showing teeth and growling.
  3. Fights can break out over toys, dropped treats, or even proximity to an owner that the dog wants to “guard”. If dogs start gathering at your feet and stiffening up, MOVE AWAY and keep walking.
  4. Don’t let your dog bully or harass other dogs. Even the most tolerant dog will not put up with it forever and may eventually snap to defend himself.
  5. Stand up for your dog if it is being bullied. Move between the dogs if necessary, and don’t be shy about telling the other dog’s owner to step in and control or correct his dog.
  6. Practice with your dog so that you can call him away from any distraction.


Breaking up a dog fight:

  1. Clap hands, shout “NO” or “AH-AH”! Sometimes this will be enough if dogs are caught in the early stages of a fight. Blowing a whistle can also be effective.
  2. All dogs not involved in the fight should be called by their owners and leashed, then walk away from the fight.
  3. Spray citronella spray (Direct Stop) towards the dogs’ faces. Pepper spray is not recommended as this can irritate the eyes (humans too).
  4. If dogs do not separate: Owners of the two fights dogs should lift their dogs’ rear quarter by the hind legs (you can use your hands or slip your leash around the dog’s belly) and slowly back apart until the dogs are separated. Don’t try to grab a collar or you risk being bitten or getting fingers caught and twisted in the collar.
  5. Once separated, the dogs should be leashed and removed from the park. Do not let the dogs go – they are still pumped full of adrenaline and may go back into the fight.
  6. Check the dogs for injury and seek vet care as needed. In many cases the fight will sound much worse than it is, and will result in no, or minimal injuries.



Make sure you understand the dog park’s rules before arriving. Not all parks have the same rules (even in the same county).

Here are some tips on introducing your dog to a dog park:

  1. Walk your dog for at least 30 minutes before entering the dog park. You want your dog to “burn off” some excited energy before meeting other dogs.
  2. Introduce your dog to other dogs on the way to the park; make sure to ask the owner first.
  3. Visit the park at off-peak, non-busy times (weekday afternoons). If the park is busy when you arrive, consider walking your dog around the park outside the fence. Let your dog meet other dogs through the fence.
  4. Keep this a positive experience. Don’t force your dog to interact with other dogs. If your dog is overwhelmed or showing signs of fear (i.e., tail tucked and ears back) remove your dog from the park.
  5. Some dogs may want to hide on / under a park bench until they gain confidence that the park is a safe place. It’s okay, let them hang out there till they are comfortable.